Sunday, July 27, 2008

ER visit to the Vet

Friday night we made an ER visit to the vet. I had found one that is open 24/7 and that also does more blood transfusions for cats so I wanted to take Buttercup over there especially since she didn't eat much today and I was getting very worried. We went in about 6:30 and finally got in to see the vet at about 8:30 or so. The clinic was actually pretty busy. This new vet is much better than the others she has seen. He examined her very closely and did a very good eye exam with her. He suggested some x-rays to see if she indeed did have a mass in her abdomen as well as some other blood tests and a test of her blood pressure. When he examined her eyes he did say that he say some hemorrhaging in the back of her eyes which could be from high blood pressure among other things. He did say that she was still able to see some because she did track his finger and her eyes did dilate. We had to leave her at the clinic for a few hours since the tests were going to take a long time and we needed to get home to Mac. We finally went back to the clinic about 1:30 in the morning. The news wasn't all that good. His prognosis is similar to the first vet. All of her other systems and organ functions did check out pretty well, so the culprit to her being sick is definitely her feline leukemia. He is sending off the blood to a special lab to see if they can tell exactly what kind of leukemia she has. He said though that she probably still wouldn't be a candidate for any kind of chemotherapy since she is already so sick. Her red blood count is now down to 6. We discussed a blood transfusion. Dr. Riddle gave us much more pros and cons of doing a blood transfusion. I'm still not sure if it is the right thing to do given that she might get an infection. What we are going to try first is a new medication to stimulate her appetite even more. She'll take this new medication in addition to the predisone and B12 shots. So far this new medication seems to be helping quite a bit. She has been alot more alert since Friday and eating and drinking alot more. I am still hopeful that maybe she'll gain just a bit more weight that doing a blood transfusion will be more beneficial. The other reason to send off her blood samples to the specialist is to see for sure if her bone marrow is definitely not regenerating. If it is even just a bit then we will do the blood transfusion. If it's not then there really is not point in doing the blood transfusion.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A New Addition to our Family

Tonight Daniel and I welcomed a new addition into our family. His name is Mac and he is a very cute black puppy. We aren't quite sure what breed he is, but we are pretty sure he is some kind of Lab/Retriever mix. He showed up at my husband's co-worker's house a few weeks ago and stuck around. She tried to find his owner for several weeks and even took him to see if he was microchipped with no such luck. Since Dan knew I'd been wanting a service dog for some time now, he thought this puppy might be the answer to getting one. After discussing it for about a week, I finally agreed to give him a trial basis. We've named him Mac, short for Macintosh. We figured we might as well stay with the computer theme. Although, I am noticing a animals around here tend to be more of Daniel's pet than mine! So we have lots of training to do with Mac, but so far so good. He is a very good dog and there really are only a few minor things that we have to work out of him, but that's mainly cause he is still a puppy. He learns pretty quick. This is the first time I've ever owned a dog so it should be very interesting. Walking him has been rather fun! I can actually do it with very little hassle and I am sure once he gets used to me more that it will be much easier.

So our life is now more hectic than ever! Buttercup is still with us and hanging in there best she can. The puppy actually likes her alot and seems concerned that she is sick and tries to watch out for her. It's rather cute. Pixel and Mac are still working on getting to be friends, but it is going much better than I expected!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Update on Buttercup

I wanted to give everyone a quick update on Buttercup's status. She's been doing pretty good the last couple of days since we got the news about her condition on Wednesday. I talked to the vet again on Thursday and she said she'd been talking to the internal medicine specialist about Buttercup's condition. They felt that a blood transfusion is still risky given the complications that can go wrong. She did say though that they had talked and felt that putting her on predisone steroid and vitamin B12 shots twice a week might help perk her up more and keep her appetite up. The pills have been a bit difficult to give to her and we've tried everything from the finger down the throat method to dissolving it in tuna juice. Even though she doesn't like it, for the sake of time and to make sure she gets her full dose every 12 hours, we're going with the finger method (i.e. prying her mouth open and shoving the pill in. I hate doing it and so does Dan but it's the best way to make sure she is getting the full dose. The shots are actually a bit easier to do. I'm going to talk to the vet this week and see if we can up those to like every other day or at least three times a week.

She's still eating and drinking. She's getting quite spoiled getting to eat on the couch and picked up to sleep in the bedroom (usually in the wheelchair). I'm hopeful that she'll be able to pull through this for a bit longer. I've started working on a scrapbook page with some pictures of us with her. I wanted something to remember her by Heaven forbid we lose her sooner than I expect.

Thank you to everyone for your love and support during this difficult time.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Buttercup is sick

Over the last couple of months our kitty, Buttercup, has been losing weight. At first we just figured it was due to her losing some of her teeth last year and being on a softer food diet. Then in April shortly after I got back from Utah I noticed a small scratch on her chin. It didn't look good at all so I called the vet the next morning and got her right in. The vet, who is not the normal vet we see, said that it looked like nothing but gave me some antibiotics for her just in case. I gave as much as I could to Buttercup and the sore healed pretty quick so I didn't worry about it. Even though the vet at the time made mention of her weight loss she didn't seem all that concerned. I wish now that she would have looked into it more. Since we took her in for that appointment, Buttercup has continued to lose weight and this last couple of weeks I noticed a dramatic change in her. As soon as I could on Monday. The vet (BC normal vet thank goodness) said that her weight loss was definitely not normal and wanted to run some bloodwork. She said that it could either be something with her thyroid since she was still eating fairly good or it could possibly be a tumor.

Today the vet called with some very bad news. The blood work came back showing that Buttercup has a very low red blood count. The pathologist's conclusion was that the feline leukemia has become active and has gotten into Buttercup's bone marrow and that's whey she isn't producing any new red blood cells. She is now down to 7 lbs! I feel horrible that we didn't take more action sooner when we saw her losing the weight. She was and really still is quite active that I just figured that the weight loss was actually doing her some good. The vet said there really isn't much we can do for her now other than keep her comfortable and try and get her to eat as much as possible. I am still praying for a miracle that maybe by gaining some weight she'll go into remission or something. Since she is anemic from the low red blood count there is the possibility of doing a blood transfusion but the vet said that would only buy her about a month. We are going to see how this next week goes and then make a decision on what to do. I am just not ready to let her go yet! If doing at least one blood transfusion gets me at least another month to be with her then that's what I want to do if we can afford it. She is actually still doing pretty well so I am hoping that as long as we stay on top of things from this point on and keep in regular contact with the vet that may she'll be able to pull through for a bit longer. I just can't bear to lose her right now but I also don't want her to suffer either. I need to do some more research about feline leukemia so if anyone knows anything about this disease please let me know!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Weekend Getaway to Fairbanks

Dan and I went to Fairbanks this past weekend for the 4th of July. We really haven't been on what I would consider a true vacation, especially roadtrip since we have been married. We've gone places, but it's usually been because of family gatherings or medical reasons. So this was a nice 3 and a half days just by ourselvces for the most part. Our mini-vacation started on July 3rd right after work:

Day 1 - (July 3rd) We left Anchorage about 2 p.m and headed north for our 6 our drive. We couldn't have asked for a better day to be driving. The weather was perfect (something we haven't seen alot of lately) and the further we got the prettier it got. It was Dan's first time going to the interior and my 3rd. Since we were getting a late start, Mr. Speedy didn't make much allowances for stops for I took as many from the car as I could while we were driving. Luckily my camera takes pretty good photos through glass and has a great stabilizer on it so I hope most of them turned out. I did talk him into stopping once into a turnout so I could get a picture of Denali State park and one of the prettier views. We got to Fairbanks about 8:30. The place we stayed at is called River's Edge Resort and they have either the lodge you can stay in or individual cottages along the banks of the Nenana river that runs through Fairbanks. They had handicap accessible cottages so we opted to stay there to get the fully unique Alaska experiene. They have patios that you can sit out on and watch the river and sunset (which we didn't really see much of given that Fairbanks has nearly 23 hours of daylight right now) When we got to our cottage, Dan opened up the room to find rose petals and candles lit....courtesy of you know who arranging that beforehand ;) It was very romantic. We decided to go get something to eat after taking a break from driving for six hours so we went over to the Chena restaurant. It's on the restort property and we sat out on the veranda area. Even though Anchorage isn't that big of a city, it's definitely a city with traffic, etc. This was just nice to get away and feel as though we were actually in a different state! The food at Chena's was wonderful. I had a apple and spiced walnut salad and Dan had a chicken dish if I remember right. We had a yummy chocolate mousse for dessert. It was a very peaceful dinner along the river. We got to see a family of ducks swim by that was very cute. We also saw lots of boaters, people in canoes or kayaks or others that were just floating down the river. It was still plenty of daylight out and you can do those types of activities all night long here in Alaska, especially Fairbanks.

Day 2 (July 4th) Happy 4th of July! We got up early and went on the Riverboat Discovery for a three-and-a half hour cruise. The cruise takes you into the heart of Alaska and the heart of a family who has made the rivers of Alaska a way of life for four generations. We got to see a bush plane taking off from a "bush" style runway, visit the home and kennels of the late four-time Iditarod winner Susan Butcher, and gain insight into the ancient Athabascan Indian culture. Alaskan Native guides who have worked and lived in Alaska took us on a personalized tour of the Chena Indian Village. Our guides were very friendly. One girl was a native Eskimo Indian who has grown up here in Alaska and the other young girl was from Texas and was full-blooded Cherokee up here going to UAA. They were great hostesses and I wasn't bored at all.

After the riverboat experience we headed 10 miles outside of Fairbanks to the town of Fox, Alaska. Here we boarded the Tanana Valley Railroad Engine No. 1 and headed through a Permafrost tunnel to learn about goldmining. Fairbanks got it's start from goldmining so going panning for gold is still alive and well today. The tunnel was interesting, but definitely not for those with claustophobia. I tried to listen to the miner that was telling us about the mine and how to tell the difference between Mica and Gold, but trying to find the right camera setting, I missed alot of what was said! I should have been listening more too when "Yukon" Yonda and her husband Dexter Clark, our hosts for the day explained how to pan for gold because I was so lost when we got to the trough area with our "poke" of pay dirt. We ended up doing pretty well though and between the two of us got about $8 worth of gold. I think we'll just continue to let that appreciate for awhile! Dan was so cute with his goldpanning technique! He sure didn't want to miss even the smallest fleck of gold. I love my OCDish hubby! After we got done finding our gold, we got to go into the tourist trap (aka the gift shop) and treat ourselves to free warm cookies!

On the way back to the restort, we stopped by the Alaska Pipeline viewpoint. It's one of the few viewpoints where you can see the pipeline and touch it. Dan didn't want me to try and even touch it given how hot it pooper! We went back to the room for a bit and rested before going to dinner. I'd heard about this restaurant called The Pump House and we actually passed by it on our cruise so we decided to go back out there. The food was good, but not as good as the review I had read about. We were going to sit outside again, but after being outside all day, the sun was really getting to me. That's the thing about Fairbanks, it's so different weatherwise from Anchorage. It was at least 75-80 every day we were there. It was a nice change of pace! Dan had a chicken dish and I had Chicken Marsala. We topped it off with Boston Cream Pie for dessert....yummy.

Day 3 - (July 5th) Today was one of the highlights of the trip for me. You've heard the phrase "Christmas in July" Well today it pretty much was! We got up and drove to North Pole....Alaska, that is. North Pole, Alaska is about 30 minutes from Fairbanks. The whole town is decorated for Christmas 365 days a year! It is definitely not a place for Christmas Grinches that can't take hearing Christmas music in the heat of the July Sun. We finally found the Santa Claus House which is on St. Nicholas Dr. They also have other streets such as Snowman Dr. and Santa Clause Dr. The Santa Claus House is all decorated for Christmas. Right now there is Dancer and Blitzen grazing the grounds. We were greeted my Santa and Mrs. Claus and I talked Dan into getting his picture taken will all of us. The gift shop is huge and has almost everything you can imagine relating to Christmas. I say almost because there were a couple of things I was looking for for my two best friends in the whole world who love Christmas as much as I do ;) but I managed to find gifts for everyone....even Clarissa and Anthony ;)

We had to hurry back to Fairbanks for lunch with my friend Peggy. She works in our Fairbanks office. After lunch at Pike's landing we got in Peggy's van (finally got to get into an accessible van for the weeken as we came down on Dan's car) and toured the town. Our first stop was St. Matthews Episcopal church. Built back in 1905, it's one of Fairbanks oldest churches. The stain glass windows depict the church's history which also includes the first hospital in Fairbanks. Clarissa, these pictures are for you! We also stopped by to see Peggy's I don't feel so bad about our cramped quarters here in Anchorage! Poor Peggy! We also toured downtown, the botanical gardens that is run mainly by volunteers such as Peggy (we even got to see her flowerbeds, very cool!) and we drove by the Musk Ox farm (kinda hard to see them on the side we were at) and Creamer's Field. At first we didn't see anything at Creamer's Field, but then saw a few ducks, cranes and Canadian geese. It was pretty serene looking out on the field.

We went to dinner at The Turtle Club back out in Fox. This restaurant was recommended by a friend of mine at work and I see why. Dan got the 20 oz. Prime Rib and I got 3 Prawns. Neither of us finished our meals because the entrees were so huge! You wouldn't think prawns could get that big, but I only managed to eat 1, maybe one and half. We were so full this was the one night we didn't get a dessert!

Day 4 (July 6th) We got up and checked out of the resort this morning. There were still several things I wanted to do (the whole trip was about a day too short!). Since Chena Hot Springs is apparently a once in a lifetime experience, we decided to head that direction first and see how long we had afterwards. It was about an hour away. Along the way we passed through Two Rivers, Alaska an unincorporated little town of about 500 or so people. We also finally got to see some wildlife. Along the road was saw two moose. The river passes through that area and the moose were just there chillin taken a bath and drinking in the water. We see moose all the time here in Anchorage, but to see them truly out in the wild is something to see!

We got to Chena Hot Springs just a bit too late as the tour we were trying to make that started at 11 had just barely started and you can't join in late. The tour is for the ice museum. We had to wait around till 1 to go on the tour. IT WAS SO COLD! I think they said the temp. was -20 in there. There are several ice sculptures made of two different kinds of ice and also 4 rooms that if you are brave enough you can stay there overnight for $600 a night. So far only like 1 or 2 couples have gone the whole 12 hours. I did pretty well except for my hands which even with gloves got really cold! Some people got to sit at the bar and enjoy appletini's. Since we don't drink we couldn't get one, not even a virgin one because alcohol is the only beverage that won't freeze in there. I did get to hold one of the ice martini glasses though. Chena Hot Springs was definitely a once in a lifetime experience unless we have visitors because I don't know if I could put up with the cold again at the ice museum and the area around the hot springs was just covered with mosquitos and nats. I didn't find it all that enjoyable.

So we drove back to Fairbanks and stopped at Wal-Mart to stock up for the drive back to Anchorage. We got back to the car just in time because it started to rain really hard! We weren't able to stop at the other places I wanted to but we did drive by Pioneer Park so I could get my picture and mark it off my "odd pictures in Alaska" list. So we headed back to Anchorage. We made it home at 12:30 in the morning. It took longer because we made alot more photo stops on the way back.

So that was our experience in Fairbanks. I definitely would like to go back next summer so someone please come visit so we have another reason to go back! It's definitely a place you have to go to if you come visit Alaska. So now I get to go scrap over 3 gigs of pictures! It may be a day or two before I get them posted here for you to see.